Is there another earth in the universe?

Is there another earth in the universe? Last Tuesday at an international conference in France, scientists reported the discovery of a star or sun—HD 10180—one hundred light years or 587 trillion miles away (not exactly our next door neighbor, to be sure). But what was fascinating was their announcement that this sun is orbited by at least seven planets—most of which are 13 to 25 times the mass of our home planet Earth. However, one of those planets is only 1.4 times our size—making it the smallest planet ever spotted outside our own solar system. “The really nice thing about finding systems like this is that it shows that there are many more out there,” observes Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science (SBTribune 8-25-40). In fact astronomers now believe there is growing evidence that our universe is “full of planets”—and that a number of them could be similar to our own. Very interesting.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether any of those planets are “peopled” by intelligent (OK, OK—but you know what I mean) beings like us? Could it be that if there were a Hubble-like telescope powerful enough to take close-up aerial photographs of one such planet, we would see communities of habitations spread around that terrestrial ball? Could inhabited planets be scattered through hundreds or even millions of galaxies?

The Bible is strangely silent about such a possibility. The Book of Job describes the “sons of God” (“heavenly beings” NRSV) gathering before God in council and at the creation of Earth (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). Would such intelligent beings include more than the angels who inhabit God’s home kingdom? Scripture doesn’t say. But would it be that unusual for the Creator of the universe, depicted in the Bible as a parental God of relentless love, to have created numerous orders of intelligent life throughout his vast domain? Hardly.

What is apparently unique and unusual for God’s earth children is that we are the only planet to join the satanic rebellion against the Throne. Thus we are the only order of intelligent life the two gift-weapons for the duration of the cosmic war that now engulfs this planet: the gift of prayer (our 24/7 ability to be in instantaneous personal communication with God) and the gift of prophecy (God’s periodic communication with his earth children through divinely-selected men or women entrusted with direct messages from him to us). Two vital gifts critical for God’s earth children to master.

Not because he is 587 trillion miles away. But because we can hear the tread of an approaching God “even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). For that reason we embark on twin journeys this season: a journey into prayer (“40 Days of Prayer”)—and a journey into the gift of prophecy (our new pulpit series, “The Gift”). And in all candor, I am praying earnestly that you’ll join me in both journeys. Never mind the other planets. It’s our home planet God must save. And we must help him. Which is why he needs you right now.